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Friday, October 30, 2009


I was reading the Bible this morning and came across a great verse in Isaiah 42:

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.

This reminded me of a song but I couldn't put my finger on it. A vague tune kept nagging at me until I had to go to the oracle - Google - and search for, 'sing a new song'.

Of course, none of the hits led me back to the Bible - apparently Google is agnostic - but it did lead me to the song that was in my head.

So, thanks to U2 for leading me from Isaiah to Psalms - because the inspiration for their song 40 reportedly comes from Psalm 40.

The Isaiah passage I read this morning - 42:10 - speaks to God's identity and His deeds on our behalf. Reading on into chapter 43, there are some amazing words of clarity that really made me reevaluate the place that God has in my life.

I recommend spending ten or fifteen minutes with Isaiah 42 - 44. Let me know what you think.

Happy Friday :-)


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Football Follies

There used to be a show on television by this name: Football Follies. I don't know; it may still be on somewhere, but I don't watch much TV anymore.

The follies I am talking about today will most likely be the proverbial Greek to my friends who stop by and read this - thank you all for putting up with my love of the beautiful game - Football (soccer).

Folly #1: Real Madrid lose 4-0 in the Copa del Rey...

Third division side Alcorcon laid the lumber on the shiny new $300 million version of the Galacticos in the first leg of the King's Cup - Spanish football's open cup championship. This would be like the Yankees getting beaten by the Pensacola Pelicans in today's World Series opener. Well, not quite, but you get the idea. As for Real Madrid? Serves 'em right. John Lennon and Paul McCartney said it best decades ago: Money can't buy me love.

Folly #2: Relegated Newcastle are winners and losers...

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Newcastle United, an historic football club in the UK with perhaps the most fanatical and dedicated fan base in the world continue to befuddle. While leading the 2nd tier professional league (The Coca Coal Championship), decisions are still being made regarding ownership of the club and the status of their manager. Suffering the indignity and embarrassment of relegation from the Premier League, Newcastle have stepped up and are leading the chase for promotion. But with constantly under-fire owner Mike Ashley taking the club off the market and caretaker manager Chris Hughton being named as permanent, fans are less than overjoyed. Gone are the foreign suitors. Gone is any mention of local icon Alan Shearer returning to lead the Tynesiders. Newcastle is the poster child for a club that's losing even though they're winning.

Folly #3: I'm nervous about my club...

Like Newcastle United, Manchester United are an historic club - albeit a significantly more winning one. After suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of rival Liverpool this weekend, they met lower tier club Barnsley yesterday in the fourth round of the Carling Cup. After a rapacious start with an early goal, United looked in peril from a frisky home side. Free transfer Michael Owen showed why he is still to be considered among the leagues' top strikers with a sublime move and goal to seal the win. So why is this considered a folly? Captain Gary Neville, still struggling to regain his regular place on defense was give a straight red for a poor tackle on Barnsley's Adam Hammill.

Couple this with Rio's horrific play lately and the England mainstay's own injury struggles and United look weak in the back.

Of course, it's when the doubters start cackling that the Red Devils usually come to the fore. I'm pretty sure that Sir Alex can lead his squad to a record fourth consecutive, and 19th overall, league victory. But I'm still nervous.

And that is usually proven to be folly...


Thursday, October 15, 2009

What can God do for you?

United Parcel Service (UPS) had a slogan: What can Brown do for you?

The point of their slogan and the associated ad campaign was to convince businesses and consumers that no matter what shipping needs they had, UPS could meet that need.

Why is it that we believe what advertisers tell us about a company's capabilities? What causes us to put complete faith in human endeavor but question God's ability to meet our needs?

Last night in our church youth group, we discussed the conflict between depending on God to do what he wants to do in one's life and the effort one has to put into life in order to achieve something God wants to do through someone.

Read that one more time just to make sure you get it! :-)

The example we talked about last night was: if God wants me to go to college - even a specific college - I have to put some effort forward - not skipping classes, doing my homework, keeping my GPA up, etc.

However, our guest speaker shared an example of something a little different. He was able to get accepted into the University of Mobile - a tough school to get accepted to - with a 2.1 GPA. He went to class during his senior year in high school maybe twice a week; generally not putting a lot of effort into it.

Did God want him at UM? Was God able to move situations and events to allow him to gain acceptance even without meeting the minimum standards?

Only God knows for sure.

I'm not saying that anyone who has faith in God should just plop down on the couch and say, "If God wants me to be an airline pilot - or lawyer, or bricklayer, or whatever - He will make it happen and I'll just sit here and wait for that moment."

But if we're going to have faith the size of a mustard seed, if we're going to believe that God can move mountains for us - if that mountain is in the way of His will for our lives - shouldn't we believe that He can do it with our without our intervention?

As believers, we need to seek God's will for our lives through the Bible, prayer, life circumstances, and our church fellowship. Sometimes God will ask us to take action; other times He will ask us to wait. But in all cases, if we are obedient - His will will be done.

This is a HUGE issue that could never really be unpacked in a simple blog entry. But I wanted to put it out there for folks to think about and comment on.

If we believe that UPS, or any company, can meet our every need, why is it so hard to rely on God?

Let me know what you think...


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Paper or Plastic?

Typically, when I hear the question, "Paper or plastic?" I am in the grocers. But the word plastic will take on a different meaning for me now. Hungary has taken a big step down a slippery slope with the Miss Plastic contest, as MSN reports from the Today Show.

The official website (English version) provides more information on the origins, motivation and supposedly altruistic nature of the pageant. One judge remarked, "Hungarians used to laugh about plastic surgery but it's time for Hungarian women to care more about their appearance. They are the most beautiful in Europe."

If Hungarian women are the most beautiful in Europe, why do they need plastic surgery?

Contestants must have gone fully under the knife - no pansy botox or collagen here.

I know it's always dangerous for a man to remark about women's issues, but I just couldn't hold back. Personally, I think this is a really bad idea. It sets a dangerous precedent and sends a message to young women everywhere that there is reward to be had for having surgery - for putting a premium on appearance over substance. I don't think it will be long before America takes this idea and runs with it - sad, but probably true.

What do you think?


Friday, October 9, 2009


I must've been a weird kid because I remember using that 'word' - complain-a-tain - when I was in elementary school. On the one hand, it's nice to know that I was so laid back at an early age that I had a name for people that complained too much. Of course, complaining is now a national pastime and may soon qualify as an Olympic sport, so I'm probably in the minority when I think that complaining is a bummer.

Don't get me wrong; I'll be the first to admit that I do my share of complaining - a lot of it happens in the car where I am subjected to a distinct lack of common sense on the part of various people who are piloting 2,000 bombs as if they were riding tricycles in the park. And then there are the teenagers - I'm talking about ours, not someone else's.

This article from 2007, chronicles one reporter's attempt to follow the lead of Pastor Will Bowen toward a complaint-free world. If you want your own purple bracelet, you can get it here. And while I think that moving toward a world with less complaining and more service to others is a noble and worthy goal, I'm not so sure that the prosperity message preached by Pastor Bowen's home organization - 1 Community Spiritual Center - is what the world needs.

But I can't get into that, because it might be construed as complaining...

I guess my feelings about complaining today, especially in light of the world with less complaining movement, centers around society's movement toward elevating self-esteem to the top of its collective wish list. Maslow and Rand must be celebrating in their respective resting places.

What do you think?


Friday, October 2, 2009

Blame it on Rio

Not a huge follower of the Olympics, but certainly support the mission and the games as they come around every four years. Chicago, the American entry for the summer games in 2016 was gutted in the first round of voting in Copenhagen. All of the US media leading up to today's vote was boiling the race down to Rio de Janeiro and Chicago. Many believed that President Obama's visit, coupled with the earlier arrival of heavyweights Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, would put Chicago over the top - but it was not to be.

Is this another loss for the Obama presidency, or just an 'oh well' event? Politically, I predict the right side of the aisle will be leveraging this for all they're worth. Personally, I don't think it amounts to much - other than Obama spending some of our hard-earned cash flying to Denmark.

What put Rio over the top? I'm not the guy that has that answer, but with them hosting the World Cup in 2014, I'm sure they've argued that all or most of the infrastructure required to host the summer games will already be in place. Frankly, I think they'll have more folks in town for the WC than the Olympics.

What do you think?